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About Cassandra Balchin

Cassandra Balchin is the Chair of the Muslim Women's Network, UK. She was a journalist based in Pakistan for many years and was part of the network Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML). She is a freelance researcher, writer and human-rights advocacy trainer.

Articles by Cassandra Balchin

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Development and religion: ambivalent policy, grounded practice

Development policy seems to swing between a Marmite-style love-it-or-hate-it approach to religion. Yet practice on the ground is more subtle—and more effective. Cassandra Balchin suggests why this gap exists between policy and practice

Jewish. Orthodox. Feminist. Israeli.

Orthodox Jewish feminists may seem to outsiders to be a contradiction in terms. But as Cassandra Balchin discovers while talking with Israeli Orthodox Jewish feminist, Dr. Debbie Weissman, Jewish politics in Israel is anything but straightforward.

Having our cake and eating it: British Muslim women

The arguments about family law rights in Britain's Muslim communities are bound up with racism and sexism. Those who have a political stake in being seen as the legitimate representatives of an essentialised Muslim community are part of this problem, says Cassandra Balchin

Sitting in judgement: for men only?

As the move to appoint women judges in Muslim countries gathers pace, how far is this a guarantee of access to justice for women, especially in family law cases?

A rose and a duck: labelling religious fundamentalisms

When it comes to religious fundamentalisms women's rights activists say Shakespeare was wrong: the way we name things does affect the way we engage with them. To address the phenomenon more effectively, it's better to use the duck test.

Progressive male Muslim preachers: oxymoron or reality?

In their rush to find suitable allies to help control 'extremism', states as well as non-governmental organisations are often overlooking ordinary, individual male preachers who are taking a stand despite the risks it entails

Why do women turn religious fundamentalists on?

The more I work on projects to research religious fundamentalisms and advocate for resistance and challenge to their absolutist and intolerant world vision, the fewer answers and the more questions I have

Negotiating Bliss

The bliss of an egalitarian and just relationship between spouses cannot be achieved through a sheet of paper. But Cassandra Balchin writes that in Muslim contexts efforts to take a fresh look at marriage contracts is certainly a step towards this goal

Last but not least: CEDAW and family law

When injustice in marriage and the family is such a pervasive experience for women and girls, why is family law largely invisible as a global policy issue? What are the prospects for last to no longer remain least?

The wedding dress with attitude

Malians do a good line in combining fashion and public relations for the causes they care about. Fatoumata and Moussa didn’t just decide to get married under Mali’s new family code, they got married in it – literally

Ugandan gays and Muslim women:a common struggle to redefine family

What have gay rights activists in Christian-majority Uganda and Muslim women fighting for family law reform in Asia got in common? You’d be surprised…

Musawah: solidarity in diversity

In her concluding report from the launch of a global initiative to reform Muslim Family Law, Cassandra Balchin finds solidarity in diversity and a growing convergence around human rights values. 

Musawah: there cannot be justice without equality

Muslim scholars and activists from forty eight countries are today launching a global initiative insisting that in the twenty first century "there cannot be justice without equality" between men and women,

Home truths in the Muslim family

Sky rocketing rates of women's employment in Muslim countries and recent scholarship that has developed a vision of Islam that insists on equality between men and women, mean that the global pressure to reform Muslim family law is mounting, writes Cassandra Balchin.

Children's education and adult politics

The past three years have seen a stream of reports - in Britain and elsewhere - on Muslims and education. In a post-11 September 2001 context of rising religious fundamentalism across all faiths, this does not surprise groups such as the international network Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML). Its 2002 conference and research it published in 2004 on the "warning signs of fundamentalisms" found education and youth to be a major ideological battleground between the authoritarian religious right and secular and pluralist forces.

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